KEY COMPONENTS OF SUCCESSFUL SOCIAL MOVEMENTS

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"For me, the most important lesson
[of the Freedom Movement] is that by respecting the fact that fellow activists could passionately disagree over strategy and tactics—yet remain allies—they strengthened SNCC and the Movement as a whole."
From Bruce Hartford's article in the current issue of Urban Habitat.
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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Firefighters versus Police in Spain - a division within the regime?

The picture of firefighters skirmishing with riot police in Spain made me think of the effectiveness of widespread and DIVERSE civil disobedience.  See where I made the connections below in boldface.

Chenoweth and Stephan conclude in their study of nonviolent (v. violent) movements (Why Civil Resistance Works):
In all cases, nonviolent campaigns have succeeded in generating mass mobilization, whereas violent campaigns have relied on smaller numbers.  People who sympathize with violent opposition movements often express reluctance to participate because of fear of regime reprisals.  Although participating in a nonviolent campaign is frequently quite dangerous, ordinary citizens perceive it to be safer than participating in a violent campaign.

The diversity of participants has been as important  as the numbers of participants.  Some violent campapigns, like the Philippine insurgency, mobilized tens of thousands of members.  However, most of these participatnts were young men who rallied around the Marxist ideology, thus exluding those who found that ideology unattractive.  Perhaps more important from a strategic perspective, the reliance on a single opposition ideology cut the Marxist insurgents off from the opponent regime.  More diverse campaigns, which include multiple age groups, class, occupations , ideologies, and genders, are likelier to have links to members  of the regime, such that opportunities to create divisions  within the regime become more ubiquitous.

. . . In the [Iranian Revolution, the first Intifada, and overthrow of Marcos] the nonviolent campaigns applied sufficient pressure to begin dividing the regime from its main pillars of support.  One of the most visible outcomes of this strategy was loyalty shifts among security forces, an outcome that would be difficult to imagine if the campaigns had been violent.  Once security forces refused to obey the regime, the state  was forced to capitulate to the campaign's demands......

And this reminds me of a great movie, Children of the Revolution, in which Joe strategically focuses on recruiting the police as part of his successful revolutionary activity.  You can apparently watch this movie for free online.  I highly recommend it -- it has a Monty Python like satiric story line with a killer cast (Judy Davis, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, F. Murray Abraham).  It is funny and serious at the same time....much like Life of Brian as a good critique of leftist ideologues.


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